Are you someone who find themselves to be moody, anxious or stressed out from work? Do you find yourself reaching for the rectangular cardboard box every time you feel this way? You may be part of the 12.6% of the population in Australia who make up the smoking rate in adults as found in the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. For years and years the deed of smoking has been associated with the relief of stress. The reprieve from everyday life that acts as a form of escape from life's ups and downs and if you find yourself mimicking this behaviour then it is likely that you might be a stress smoker.


Here at the Melbourne Quit Smoking Clinic we have a strict no judgment policy. This stems from a life of experience with those who have a love for smoking. Witnessing this occurrence has made us realise that smoking is not the best way to escape the stresses of everyday life and it can’t be as simple as saying quit smoking today, yet it is a matter of re training a stressed out mind to mentally disassociate the feelings of relaxation often paired with taking a breath of a cigarette and put other techniques in their place.


Researchers at Cornell have conducted research, suggesting that smoking does not alleviate stress but has been linked to triggering stress. In 2005 a study titled Smoking, stress, and negative affect: Correlation, causation, and context across stages of smoking discovered that “Nearly 25% of the U.S. population smoke tobacco products, many of these people reporting that they smoke more often when they feel stressed, worried, sad, or angry.”


This is a large percentage of the American population that have mentally linked their smoking habits to stress, yet we are very much advocates that there is nothing contained in a cigarette that helps to relieve stress, in fact it is the opposite. Cigarettes can contain up to 70 cancer-causing chemicals, which can be alarming to discover. 


Feelings of stress often arise when you haven’t had a cigarette for some time, which is termed ‘nicotine withdrawal’. As a smoker you associate the relief of these troublesome feelings with the breath of your next cigarette, thus forcing a positive association in your mind. People often feel they are escaping and take a breath in when they smoke, it is the escape from social situations and the deep breath that gives the idea that one is relaxing. Health Line advises that the changes in mood and anxiety are connected with nicotine withdrawal. 


Nutrition Australia cannot stress enough how important it is for those who have chosen to quit smoking to remain hydrated. “When having a craving for a cigarette, one method to beat the craving is to keep your mouth and hands busy. Sipping on water throughout the day can help do this”. It is also necessary to keep a bottle of water near you at all times to act as a distraction whenever an urge arises and this can also help improve concentration thus reinforcing willpower to stop yourself from smoking a cigarette. 


American College of Surgeons addresses the aspect of needing to quit for an impending operation stating “Smoking increases your risk of problems during and after your operation. Quitting 4 to 6 weeks before your operation and staying smoke-free 4 weeks after it can decrease your rate of wound complications by 50 percent. Quitting permanently can add years to your life.,”.


While this is true it can also place added stress on individuals as they experience feelings of being boxed in as well as a pressure to change for such an unexpected reason. To remain calm and stress the least, it is important to think of the long-term benefits of making the change. Quitting smoking is not a sprint, it's a marathon and healthcare professionals, family and friends will be more than willing to provide the necessary support to start a change.

Everyone will experience stress or anxiety at some point in their life, yet when this stress becomes linked with habits like smoking all hope is not lost. You may be experiencing emotional or physical stress which triggers smoking but with the Melbourne Quit Smoking Clinic you can be assisted to overcome your internal battles in ways that you may not have even thought of without venturing too far from your comfort zone.